Search parties will tomorrow step up efforts at Memi lake where a self-confessed serial killer says he threw the body of a six year old girl, the only one of seven murder victims whose body has not yet been found.
On Tuesday, after weeks of combing the toxic Kokkini Limni (Red Lake) at Mitsero, divers recovered a suitcase with the badly decomposed body of an adult, believed to belong Maricar Valdez Arquiola from the Philippines.
Formal identification is still pending, while a Scotland Yard pathologist is due in Cyprus to join state pathologists for the post-mortem identification.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides described the discovery of the body a ‘very important development’ in police investigations in the spate of murders which has sent shockwaves through Cyprus.
The suspect, a 35 year old Cypriot army officer, is due back in court on Thursday where police will request a renewal of his remand.
He has been in police custody since mid-April and has reportedly confessed in a hand written statement to killing five women and two children. He has also been taken to both lakes where he showed police where he had disposed on the bodies.
The suspect, who went by the online name of Orestes, has told police that he wrapped the body of the six year old girl in a sheet, tied it to a cement block and threw it in Memi lake.
However, despite a search with divers, sonar equipment and robotic cameras, and the assistance of Israeli experts who were in Cyprus last week, search parties have made no progress.
Fire services chief Marcos Trangolas, who is coordinating the search, reiterated on Wednesday that the search in Memi lake was particularly difficult.
He said that today, search teams will move all the equipment from Kokkini Limni to Memi so that the search can get underway in earnest tomorrow using the robotic camera and with the help of Brasal Marine Services who have been assisting search efforts for weeks and whose diver yesterday discovered the suitcase.
“There were times we lost hope,” Trangolas said of the protracted search for the third suitcase. He noted that search parties had found the first two suitcases within eight days but then had to search for weeks for the third one.
“We had four or five days to go before we had covered the whole area, there was disappointment and concern,” he said.
Trangolas said the third suitcase was under mud, while the first two were found in shallow water.
The suspect is due in court on Thursday for his sixth eight day remand and police have not indicated when they intend to file formal charges.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said that police have taken 600 statements and the investigation was proceeding well.